The number one thing you need to know is that the less money the insurance company pays you, the more money they make as profit. In other words, they have no incentive to help you and every incentive to work against you. As a result, you probably shouldn’t release medical records to another driver’s insurance company. And you should not sign away a blanket medical release where they can pull any medical records they want.
However, it’s not as simple as just refusing to let any insurance company see any medical records at all. Ultimately, there are certain medical records they need, and you’ll never get paid anything if they can’t get at least basic medical information on your injuries. What’s important is to know when it’s okay to hand over medical records, and which specific records you should authorize them to see.
The Truth Behind the Insurance Company’s “Medical Release”
Most of the time, insurance companies will send you a “medical release” form asking for permission to view your medical records. Do not sign this form. If you do, in most cases you are giving them carte blanche to look at any and all medical records they can find for you—not just the ones related to the accident.
This is a bad idea because:
- It will let them pull records on pre-existing conditions
- It will let them pull records that may undermine your case
- They will use these records to suggest that your injuries aren’t from the car accident at all
- They will try to deny payment
If this seems unfair, it’s because it is. But once you sign that release, they can pull just about any medical record and use it against you. They will cherry-pick the ones that suggest your injuries aren’t that severe, or the ones that suggest you may have already had the condition beforehand. Even if the car accident made it worse.
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What Kind of Medical Records Does the Insurance Company Need?
In order to process your claim, an insurance company will need:
- Medical records directly related to the injuries from the accident
- Documents, such as X-rays, that show the injuries (if available)
- Proof of the kind of treatment you have received or have been recommended to receive
That’s it. So if you have a broken wrist, they need the diagnosis, the X-ray, and the documentation that you received a minor surgery to put two screws (or whatever the treatment was). That’s it—they don’t need to know about your carpal tunnel from work 4 years ago, they don’t need to know that you have osteoporosis, and they don’t need any other medical information unrelated to the injury. Period.
Both insurance companies, your own and the other driver’s, will need this select information before they can pay you any money you are owed by a claim. They have to know the injury is real and that the claim is accurate. But that’s all they need.
Under no circumstances do they need documentation of any pre-existing conditions, and you should never turn over this documentation to them (or even discuss such conditions with them). Likewise, you should never sign a general consent form for them to access your medical records.
Don’t Aid the Insurance Company
You need to understand that insurance companies aren’t there for your benefit. What they want to do is get you to settle for the lowest amount of compensation possible. This way, they can protect their bottom line and save money. Never accept the initial settlement they try to offer you and don’t give them anything that they can use against you. Even simple information can get used against you and significantly weaken your chances at getting fairly compensated for your damages.
Car accident damages can cost you thousands of dollars. A recent report on the economic well-being of American homes showed that most people can’t even afford a $400 emergency expense without suffering financial strain. Never settle for anything less than the full amount. You shouldn’t go into financial ruin for a car accident that wasn’t your fault. By helping the insurance company in any way, you run that risk.
How a Lawyer Protects You from the Insurer
When you hire a car accident lawyer, the insurance company is immediately cut off from talking to you. All of their requests have to go through the attorney, who can vet them and decide which requests are reasonable. If the insurer calls or writes you, you should simply tell them you have an attorney, give them that attorney’s information, and stop talking.
You attorney will work to identify the medical records the insurance company actually needs and give them just those records—nothing more, nothing less. That’s why it’s so important to have a lawyer handling your case for you. A car accident lawyer will provide the insurance company with only the records they truly need, and make sure that you’ve got documentation for all of the injuries you’re claiming in your accident. Your lawyer will protect you so the insurance companies can’t take advantage of you.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-400-4000
Get a Free Consultation for Your Car Accident Case Today
John Foy & Associates can give you an in-depth consultation with a lawyer for free. Don’t delay, as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 9-3-33 only gives you two years to file a claim. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and dedicated car accident lawyers.